“I have pushed for the transformation of Manifesta . . . into a more inclusive, pragmatic and sustainable format that turns signals into substance.” – Hedwig Fijen, founding director of Manifesta
1. Opening Rites To Our Common Humanity
Buzz words fly around at the press conference launching Manifesta 12 in the breathtaking Renaissance Church of Santa Caterina: incubator, civic cooperation, testing ground, sustainability, interconnection, flowing networks. The 12th edition of the biennial took as guiding vision the “Planetary Garden,” a term coined by French gardening philosopher Gilles Clément. They add that Manifesta, the nomadic biennial, was created in the early 90s as a response to the erection of new partitions and borders in Europe after they had been felled in the previous decade. Manifesta 12 wants to shift perspectives, in order to imagine and promote caring for the world through collaboration, the second tier of its title, “Cultivating Coexistence.” This “cultivating,” a gardening of sorts, is to replace the existing paradigm of one species’ domination at all cost. The concept of cultivation is to be applied to the city of Palermo itself, with the ambition of bringing lasting change and empowering its citizens of all origins and classes.
Manifesta 12 Press Conference
(all photos courtesy of Arabella Hutter von Arx)
An abandoned building, the Garibaldi Theater, has undergone a most dashing renovation that will become one of the legacies of Manifesta to Palermo. It works as the main hub where accreditations are processed, panels and interventions held, and the space is notable for a modesty often lacking in the art world. No huge banners signal its facade, nor are we assailed with the usual branding and signage mania. The space is continuously open from auditorium through the servicing desks to the street. The only toilet lacks a lock, so visitors guard each other’s privacy in an atmosphere of casual goodwill. International filmmakers Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke, legendary for documenting the excesses of US surveillance, try to make themselves heard above the general din. They are introducing the results of their residence at the Italian National Film School. The school’s documentary branch happens to be located in Palermo, enabling Poitras and Moltke to mentor the film students that were invited to produce films for Manifesta 12. The excitement is palpable as clips are projected in the presence of the young filmmakers. The films, surprisingly assured and expressive for student work, address sociopolitical issues such as the refugees’ conditions of life. The audience cringes as a paternalist evangelical proselytizes a young African. Regurgating submissively the minister’s every word, the refugee seems to crave the attention, and potential clout, of someone outside his limited social circle.
Another film, as well as of a number of pieces at the Biennial, deals with the subject of MUOS. The global communication system (Mobile User Objective System) has been implemented by the US Navy in four locations around the world to facilitate military communications and support war from a distance. With Europe, Africa and the Middle East all within reach of drones and unmanned planes, Sicily was an obvious strategic choice For this documentary, young African refugees who know the area inside out, and are skilled at avoiding patrols, guided the filmmakers through the devastated wilderness surrounding the compound. Crawling right up to the tall fences, the team shot an unmanned plane taking off to an unidentified destination, for an unidentified purpose. Breathtaking. And an inspiring example of collaboration across differences for the common goal.
While the press conference and the initial panels serve as invitation to critical thinking, a performance at the Palazzo Forcella de Seta dips into a very different register. The dilapidated palace, reopened for the Biennial, shows influences from the Middle East, Africa and Europe in its elaborate ceramic tiles and ceiling decorations. In a sumptuous room, a mountain of salt induces the visitors to circle around its commanding appearance, complete with landslides and shiny facets. Salt, a universal commodity for humans, is extracted from the sea where countless refugees have lost their lives. This substance also refers to the belief held by enslaved Africans that if they ate no salt they would be able to fly back to Africa. Black artist Patricia Kaersenhout, the creator of The Soul of Salt, calls to the forefront a group of shy young refugees. They sing an adaptation of a 19th century American slave song. As they get more confident from hearing each other’s voices, and from the emotion projected by the audience, their song rises above the scintillating salt to fill the room: “No more drowning at sea, No more, no more. No more private property, No more, no more.” Next, a black man from the ex-Dutch colony Suriname in South America blesses the salt through a sacred ritual including prayers and singing. Described as “a spiritual leader” in the program, and a likely descendant of slaves himself, he spreads a few pinches around the room, then spits a liquid from a bottle, which turns out to be rum, on the heap. Finally, the artist invites the visitors to carry back some of the salt and dissolve this symbol of suffering in water to complete the cycle of commemoration.
Nearby, as the sun sets on the stunning gulf of Palermo, people gather at the Foro Italico Park, right next to the sea. A European woman dabs green paint on a young African man’s face, both dressed in green. In fact, the whole group is wearing green, with every skin surface in the process of getting painted too. Once all the participants are transformed, the color of their skins cannot be told apart. Age and gender, too, become irrelevant. A man picks up a large carved statue, and other participants lift more figurines or baskets carrying plants. The happening makes for a striking effect, the altered human figure bringing to mind diverse branches of mythology, while the mood is both solemn and joyous amongst the participants. As the procession moves toward the center of the city, it gathers more and more followers. Local gawkers from a working class neighborhood whisper: “What is happening? What is this? “This” is a reinvention, commissioned by Manifesta, of the famous procession of Santa Rosalia, the patron saint of the city, which takes place every summer. This version, entitled Festino della Terra (The Earth’s Banquet), has been conceived by Jelili Atiku, from Nigeria, and inspired by Yoruba customs and the myth of the Green Man. The locals approve, mouthing “multicultural.” They profess to have no problems with the influx of immigrants to Sicily. “These people were hungry in their country,” says a man pinching a comfortable paunch. “Many Sicilians had to emigrate too,” adds an elderly woman with stunning blue eyes. They know very little about Manifesta, and don’t seem too interested. Meanwhile the procession reaches the center busy with tourists and shoppers, its leader blessing various landmarks along the way with a final ceremony at the Palazzo Costantino, another abandoned palace.
The Nigerian Procession
The young migrants from the procession are most willing to share their story: “I’ve been here three years. I come from Gambia.” “My name is Pape. I’m from Senegal, I’ve been here two years.” “I didn’t know anybody here. I came by myself. When I was hungry, people didn’t know, they gave me water or a cigarette. Because hunger doesn’t show.” “I’m waiting for my documents to move North. There is little work here, al nero, and it pays badly.” “The worst is the waiting. Nothing to do. Listening to the same old stories.” “I don’t regret coming over, the trip, the dangers. Here I have a future. I’m going to Italian language school.” “I don’t know much about Manifesta, about art. I’m interested in music, in movies, in theater. Is theater art? An American guy, his family was from Sicily, he did theater with us. I liked it, but we weren’t paid. After a week, he returned to his country, and we went back to waiting.” “The people at Manifesta said we would be paid for taking part in the procession. Not a lot, but paid. I hope it’s true.”
Another procession in the antique tradition of Sicily is presented the next day by Italian artist Marinella Senatore. It could easily be mistaken for a regular religious celebration. Every marching band, association, cheerleader, every school dance program, every choir from Palermo seems to be involved in this joyous cacophony. But various choreographies devised by Maria Fonzino gather retired Italians, African migrants, and working class women from the ZEN housing project. The banners also resemble those meticulously produced by parishioners and brandished in religious processions, but their messages, in Sicilian dialect, and sometimes English, speak to a different ideology: “Knowledge is power,” “Nomadic and polyvocal.” A line from a famous anonymous poem from Sicily encourages resistance: “You complain, but what do you do with your complaint? Take a stick and beat their teeth out!” The whole procession concludes with a vibrant protest song, Senatore, fist in the air, leading the way as the Palermo people stomp down the narrow streets behind her.
A Sahel Opera at the Teatro Massimo
For a couple of nights, A Sahel Opera, by composer Bintu Were, is performed at the Teatro Massimo, a colossal theater from the 19th century all gold and red velvet magnificence. The main singers are mature African migrants, while the chorus is composed of recently arrived young Africans, all trained by a music school for the purpose of the festival. It tells the story of young farmers from West Africa seduced into migrating, including a pregnant woman. In the very desirable first row of the gallery, young African migrants watch the show. They are enthralled, their fascination intensifying as the story, so close to their own, follows its course on stage. During changes of scenery, their eyes wander over the lavishness of the venue, an environment as distant as can be from the impoverished African countryside most of them come from. On stage, the drama reaches its tragic climax. The pregnant migrant dies trying to climb the last fence to Mellila, and her fellow villagers decide to go back to their home. Carrying portable lights, they form a moving procession through the audience made up mostly of the local bourgeoisie, just as African refugees mingle with the local population on the streets. While the show does not always exhibit the artistic standards they are used to, the audience is sensitive to the emotional charge, to the achievement accomplished. They respond all the more enthusiastically when their charismatic Mayor, Leoluca Orlando, stands up in his grand central lodge. Young members of the chorus wave triumphantly to their friends who applaud them from the gallery. As they exit through the lobby, hugs meld performers and junior members of the crew, mostly Italians. Just as in any performing company, they delight in the elation and bonding that come from working hard toward a goal, and seeing it come to life.
Manifesta 12 not only delivers on its pledge to involve locals of various origins, and refugees in particular, but succeeds in cultivating the coexistence of residents and outsiders, bourgeois and migrants, art connoisseurs and lay people. It can only be imagined what single-mindedness has been required, hard work, meticulous thinking-through, flights of the imagination and heart,and a pinch of egotism for good measure. The performances that celebrate the opening of the Biennial feel like ancient, authentic rituals because of the perfect coincidence of themes, locations and actors. The views on the Mediterranean lapping the shore gently outside the windows of the Palazzo de Seta while the salt of tears gets blessed indoors, the Baroque richness of the Nigerian procession against the extravagant architecture of the buildings dotting its route, the 19th century Teatro Massimo, the utter symbol of the ruling bourgeoisie in Europe, opening its doors to young refugees, affect deeply the visitors with their powerful contrasts and dynamics. Poignancy, brilliant social critique, spirituality make for a Biennial defiantly different from the contemporary art world and its exclusive functions.
2. Manifesta 12 Promises The World. And Delivers.
Manifesta 12 assigned itself the mission to leave Palermo a better city, and to empower its people. Curators made a conscious choice to hold events in spaces that are not usually dedicated to contemporary art: gardens and parks, churches, abandoned Palazzi, housing complexes, a refugee center. Most of the sites are within city limits, but a few — a scout base, the Pizzo Sella ghost housing development, Gilles Clément’s garden in the ZEN housing project – are a few hours away by foot, less by car, as kindly indicated in the Biennial’s guide. Each location gets a detailed description, on the same footing as the work exhibited. Casa del Mutilato (Center for the War Wounded), a fascistic era building, displays bombastic columns, metal eagles and 30s murals to the glory of war and soldiers. Its main space hosts a video triptych, Unending Lightning, by Cristina Lucas. Civil casualties statistics, archival footage and photographs log every single bombing since 1945, and the sum total is devastating. An embroidered silk tapestry maps World War II bombings in Europe. Another video, projected near framed photos from the fascist era, follows a plane pulling a banner of “L =(1/20 d v2 s L),” the formula which enabled flying. Because of its military related purpose, the whole venue becomes an installation where the work dialogues with the surroundings, delivering with poignancy the absurd cost of war. This exhibit belongs to the “Out of Control Room” theme, one of three that inform the Biennial, while the “Garden of Flows” section offers solutions to rein the world back into harmony. Works with the theme, “City On Stage,” investigate Palermo and simultaneously make propositions for an enlightened future. Palazzo Forcella de Seta and Palazzo Ajutamicristo (literally Help Me Christ) also host exhibits that denounce our “Out of Control Room.” In the Palazzo Ajutamicristo, yet another grand dilapidated building, it’s unclear whether the graffiti was contributed by the artists on show or existed before .
Works by Trevor Paglen
Trevor Paglen contributes to the critique with several works, including Fanon (Even The Dead Are Not Safe), a portrait of late thinker Frantz Fanon. As only the features taken into account by the algorithm enabling face recognition are rendered, in a kind of reverse process, the blurred illusion of his face contrasts with the vivid person he was, with his very real post-colonial thought. A different computation is responsible for the circular projection on the ceiling, Connected By Air, by Richard Vijgen. It traces in real time the composition of the sky over Palermo, including data, wireless waves, chemicals, air flow. Mesmerizing and worrisome at the same time. The installation ironically mimics baroque representations of the celestial realm at a time when only clouds and Gods occupied our heavens. His work, as well as Manifesta 12 as a whole, could be defined as “Art Utíl,” a discipline founded by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera. She has been collaborating with Italian activists to oppose MUOS, the US Navy surveillance installation located in Sicily. Activists have protested its implementation from the get-go, and locals claim the radiation is killing the surrounding fauna as well as harming the health of humans. Bruguera narrates this story of resistance through an installation of related documents and a populist mural. Her exhibits, as well as the other work in the “Out of Control Room,” chillingly question the responsibility of the systems and networks involved, and governmental abuse.
From the Out of Control Room
As an antidote to the dysfunction, the collaborative piece “Across The Border, 30 flags,” exhibits flags devised to bring people together rather than split them along nationalistic lines: a flag celebrating “Hormones” was created by an artist in Beirut, Beleaf is from India, Utopia from Spain, Woloff, the African Lingua Franca, from Nigeria.
But the respite is brief, as visitors are faced with accounts of the tragedies on the Mediterranean. A 3d model animation created by Goldsmith College aims at clearing a rescue boat operation, accused of collusion with engine hunters that roam the sea for boats to plunder. These NGOs are the butt of legal harassment, as the rescued migrants they seek to protect inconvenience both European countries and the Libyan Navy. The latter gets concrete incentives from Italy to capture refugees and jail them in their prisons where they are ill-treated, a despicable form of headhunting.
This conflict of interest is also documented in a film using unique footage from an NGO, where the volunteers and the Libyan navy crew fight over refugees. As they are beaten with plastic tubing, men captured by the Libyans try to jump from the Libyan Navy vessel, trying deperately to reach the NGO’s boat that will bring them to the land of promise, Italy. A melee ensues in which several refugees drown. On camera. Visitors wipe tears discretely, here and in front of other works as devastating. Through the gallery’s window, they catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean, a perfect hue of blue on this sunny day. Statistics presented in the same gallery discloses that over 10’000 migrants have drowned in its quiet waters in the last five years. The exhibits bring home to the visitor that every refugee working as staff for Manifesta 12, or taking part in a performance, or walking in the street, every young African smiling, chumming it up, playing soccer on a Saturday afternoon, has gone through the deadly ordeal of that journey. Data, money, goods – seeds even – move freely across borders with little protest, objects Manifesta in its publications, but migrating humans incite all the outcry because of their unfortunate visibility. Concomitantly, migration is defined as a form of movement that includes suffering, either as a cause, or as a consequence.
In comparison to the documentation of the tragic lot of migrants, some pieces might come across as mundane. A documentary tells of the bonds between Palermitani and films, such as the famous Leopard by Lucchino Visconti. The projection takes place on a truckbed in the inner court of a dilapidated palace. This venue is illuminated by the story of Visconti’s conflicted nostalgia for an aristocratic world that he, both count and communist, thought should justly disappear. The truck is scheduled to drive out through the large coach doors and offer its video content to local communities around Palermo.
From the Garden of Flows
The Botanical Garden belongs to the more uplifting “Garden of Flows.” It would be worth a visit even if it weren’t for the Biennial, with its lush foliage, its lemons rolling at the feet of the visitors, its fountains, its ponds, its carefully aligned terra cotta pots. Some of the exhibits belong to the familiar realm of contemporary material: gorgeous photos of plant imprints in coal, Drowned World, by Michael Wang; a video, Pteridophilia by Zhen Bo, playing on a screen set in a bamboo groove, shows young men making love to ferns; an installation by Lungiswa Qgunta, Lituation, of a plot of the garden defiled by dirty broken bottles and glass shards, sounds a desolate note of contamination and danger, whether the victims are humans, animals or the environment. Others are more unusual, such as Leone Contini’s ‘intervention’ Foreign Farmers, which documents and collects the seeds of plants introduced by migrants, as they might adapt better than native species to our changing climate. Two installations, if they can be called that, in Michael Wang’s Drowned World, hint at the ephemerality of our human race: a foaming, acid-green water in a fountain reproducing at the same time the conditions of chemical wasteland and those of the sea at the emergence of life. Species, the same that produced fossil fuels billions of year ago, have been planted in old gas tanks to accelerate their disintegration. Should we go on with our fossil fuel habit, the planet might well go back to hosting only these primitive organisms. The NGO sponsoring this work claims to be “philanthropic” by providing clean water to communities. This terminology, when Manifesta works so hard at promoting the concept of a “Planetary Garden” in the Anthropocene, sounds shockingly outdated. Michael Wang and Leone Contini’s works, like many of the installations around the city, merge seamlessly with the locations, some to stay, as Manifesta has been active in several Palermo locations for a whole year.
In the busy center, activists give out information about a march from Sicily to Brussels to protest the treatment of refugees. They seem to have no direct affiliation with Manifesta 12 but nevertheless fit nicely in its nest. On the same street, a line has formed in front of a church’s porch. Those who make it to the front of the line get to peek through an octagonal glass window. Inside, mysterious poster boards, their content undecipherable from the peephole, line both sides of the center aisle. No Manifesta signage or posters identify the site. The peepers, mostly Palermitani, explain their interest by the fact that the church is usually boarded up. On the wall of a townhouse, a large canvas shows a man stranded at the top of an escalator: he is surrounded by wilderness. No signs here either, but there is little doubt the piece is part of Manifesta 12, and should belong to the “City on Stage.” A small public garden right in the busy center of town, Il Giardino dei Giusti, prides itself in its elegant antique ruins. With its citrus trees covered in yellow netting, this installation brings attention their precious beauty and complexity, created by that most excellent artist, Nature. At the same time, the netting turns the trees into ghostly figures, hinting at their fragility. Adding one more layer of meaning, a text informs us that the netting retains humidity while allowing the sunlight through. This results in a lesser need to water, a resource that has been fought-over heatedly in Sicily, as in other parts of the world. It is one element in the What is Above Is What Is Below intervention by artists Daniel Fernandez Pascual and Alon Schwabe. Whimsical and pragmatic at the same time, they have put together a “CLIMAVORE” bag with drought resistant ingredients that is offered for free in a number of locations. On a vast piazza, a bus all decorated in vegetal patterns has been revamped to host an education hub. In front of the bus, in the balmy spring weather, the two artists propose dramatic cooking lessons, with unusual vegetables, and large, mythical pots. These, as well as the workshops for children, are well attended.
Palazzo Butera also hosts the “Garden of Flows.” In the experimental video “Night Soil,” Melanie Bonajo explores Westerners’ fraught relationship to nature. A young woman offers casual sex to men in New York City as a tantric practice. While this activity might be condemned by various systems of thought and ethics, its generosity cannot be denied. In a very different documentary, a Sicilian woman tells of her activist past: resistance under German occupation, activism on behalf of workers as a communist, then by extension on behalf of women, and finally with women against the mafia. Her testimony is particularly touching in its modesty, in its matter-of-fact descriptions of activities that changed the face of Sicily and belong now to History. The video is part of an installation by artist Uriel Orlow entitled “Wishing Trees,” and the activist’s skin does resemble the weathered bark of the tree featured in a large photograph nearby. Both have lived long and seen a lot.
Many of the videos presented can be described as straight documentaries that would not usually belong in a contemporary art gallery. Holding the projections and exhibitions in unlikely venues not only adds narrative, but also ensures that the art is noticed by people who might not visit galleries. Exhibition after exhibition, intervention and intervention, performances, installations, panels come together to realize a “planetary garden” from every angle and in every direction. The artistic work on show questions war, borders, injustice, the past, the present, the future, sustainability, ecology, in a way that is both extensive and convincing, in an environment of stunning beauty. In fact, the whole city of Palermo is turned into a huge work of art. Or, as one might argue that it already was a work of art, with its beautiful architecture combining styles from every culture, its sumptuous vegetation and its diverse ethnicity, Palermo becomes under our eyes one monster installation, pulsating and breathing fire.
Touches of humor pepper the exhibits, a relief from the emotional intensity. A mock documentary describes in depth the “Incompieto” style – as yet another architectural style – as one would speak of “Gothic” or “Italianate.” “Incompieto,” most prominent in the 20th Century in Italy, defines buildings that have been planned but never built, built but abandoned at an early age, or not quite completed or occupied. Less amusing is the reason for this Italian trend: corruption that diverted the state funds into private pockets in a mutually agreeable arrangement between the ruling class and the mafia. The “Cosa Nostra” has lost a lot of its power in Sicily, downgraded to a small-time criminal gang. The Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando has been instrumental to this demise. Not only did he fight the mafia in the 80s, but he survived to tell the tale and won, thanks to the involvement of the Sicilian women. During his dynamic tenure in the city, he’s made a huge impact on the city’s economic and political situation. He also supports the abolition worldwide of residency permits, a policy that would allow people to move freely. This open arm attitude toward migrants has not impeded his reelection: he won with over 70% of votes.
In The Guardian Apr 18, 2017, Orlando declared, “We needed time to abolish slavery, we needed time to abolish the death penalty. But in a globalised world, where there is free movement of goods, money and information, free movement of people is ultimately inevitable.” He argues that keeping people in an illegal state makes them vulnerable to the criminal world. What is left of the Mafia has been preying on destitute migrants, who get hired for the dirty work: drugs and sex trafficking.
Mayor Orlando invited Manifesta to Palermo with the hope the teams would come up with tools for further change. Additionally, smart cookie that he is, he knew that an influx of art professionals bringing work to local vendors and tradesmen, and of foreign visitors, in majority from Northern Europe, spending Euros in hotels and restaurants, has never hurt a city’s finances.
Manifesta 12 Studios
For the 12th edition of Manifesta, nearly fifty artists or artist collectives presented works, often multiple, around twenty locations. And that is the tip of the iceberg. While Palermo is teeming with exhibitions and shows as the Italian Capital of Culture for 2018, Manifesta has further developed one of its branches. “Collateral Events,” also known as “5x5x5,” work as a bridge between the international reach of the main manifestation and the local communities. Five artists were paired with five educational institutions and five international galleries. Their interdisciplinary teams are to benefit from the resources of the Biennial and prolong its legacy beyond its five months span. Covering the results of these collaborations is beyond the scope of this article, but here is a telling sample of their designation: Counter-Colonial Aesthetics; Border Crossing; In Liberty We Trust; Politics of Dissonance; Confiscated Properties: Architecture, Ideology and Performance – this team uses properties confiscated from the mafia to hold community events and performances.
Manifesta 12 Studios
As if that weren’t enough, teams from four architecture schools, “Manifesta 12 Studios,” were asked to come up with urbanism blueprints for Palermo. Their collaborative efforts investigated the city and the needs of its inhabitants. The result of their work is displayed in the attic of the architecture school, complete with an extraordinary wood and iron mechanism that must have been in use when the building was still the mill of San Antonino. The concrete, imaginative methodologies are illustrated in a synergetic way that blends the aesthetic, the emotional, and the analytical, whether it involves a large indoor plant bed or delightful miniature models. These proposals, as well as the findings from their research, have been published in Palermo Atlas, a highly original cross between a book and a magazine. The official publication of Manifesta 12, it offers an ecological deciphering of the city, defined as located both in South Europe and Northern Africa. The editors transliterated the works presented in situ by adding illustration to the content, including graphics and maps. The style “Incompieto” has its own chapter, for our further delight. The past is also explored through memories such as the interview of an 83 year old woman who pioneered as a photojournalist. A beautiful photo essay documents the migrants’ rituals now taking place alongside the traditional Catholic liturgy. The whole publication is graced by the same elegant graphical style as the Biennial’s signage: a sober, “utíl” font, a palette of primary reds and greens, digital motifs, gestural brush strokes.
Not so long ago, at the 2016 edition in Zürich, the Biennial offered a self definition that was rather modest: “Since Manifesta’s inception in the early 1990s its mission has been to examine the cultural topography of Europe.” Manifesta 12, by merging the artistic with the social, has aimed at leaving a much deeper mark. The global political situation as described by the works at the Biennial can be conceptualized as sitting at a cusp. Depending on the action of the players, international corporations in collusion with governmental surveillance and military arms will keep controlling everything, from natural resources to the minds of people, in the race for more power and profit. The activists, artists, scientists, thinkers, curators that have come together at Manifesta 12 show the way to a very different model, one which will sustain every being on the planet whether human, animal, vegetal or mineral, and that includes the magnificent decaying palaces of Palermo.
Visitors to the biennial leave with the most precious good in their luggage, one that they share with the young migrants in Palermo: hope. While the refugees aspire to a better life, the visitors gain, or regain, the faith that a better world is possible. The intense maelstrom experienced at Manifesta 12 by Sicilians, Europeans and visitors from all regions might achieve what emotions do by etymology: move one to action.
Arabella Hutter von Arx is Paris and New York City Art Critic for Riot Material magazine. Ms. Hutter von Arx is a writer with a background in film and TV production. While producing for the BBC, Channel 4, Gaumont, Bravo (Inside the Actors’ Studio) then working as the executive director of IQ, an international organization of producers, she contributed regularly articles for magazines and European newspapers. She devotes now all her time to writing, with a particular focus on the arts and on women’s issues.